BorgenThe family have been getting into Borgen, the Danish political drama television series. It’s well-produced and well acted. Sidse Babett Knudsen, who plays the charismatic Moderate Party leader suddenly catapulted into the Prime Ministership, is particularly good, though she reminds me more of Segolene Royal than Helle Thorning-Schmidt (a perhaps deliberate conflation in the casting?). The series is definitely not a good advertisement for coalition governments, with far too many tails wagging the dog, and it has been widely praised for its authenticity. It is good entertainment, I suppose, but I would prefer The West Wing any day, sugary schmalzy though it undoubtedly is. The scriptwriters of the latter deliberately created ethical and moral dilemmas on both greater and smaller issues, and much of the success of the series was down to the tensions between the two, and between idealism and realism. Yes, there was cynicism and there were cynics, and high politics was frequently getting captured by base motives and sheer events but, nevertheless, there was no doubting the underlying moral and political forces at work (and I don’t mean those lapses into schmalz). Its fans would argue that Borgen is not so different, but I think there’s more emphasis on the cynicism than the idealism and I see that as a shame. And we have to wait till the second series to get to an episode where the political (green) issues are really at the heart of the story. Politics and our politicians have taken such a battering over the past decade or so and yet our democracies continue to be predicated on their existence. If civics and political philosophy were obligatory courses at school then it would matter slightly less, but many of today’s voters only get their political education from such series.